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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-04-2011, 06:10 AM
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What are the dogmatic gasoline "camps" we all fit into when it comes to our BMW E39

In a recent thread today, the typical age-old top-tier vs gas-is-gas discussion ensued:
- Shell v-power, by DominguesE30, in Australia

Some of this discussion is influenced by marketing efforts (i.e., "the big lie"), while others are influenced by knowledge of college-level inorganic and organic chemistry (most of us have probably taken both, including myself).

Predictably, just as in the motor oil & coolant camps, there appear to be a small number of differences of educated opinion on the age-old question of "which gasoline should I put in my BMW E39" which account for almost all the back-and-forth discussion.

It was harder to describe the religious camps for gasoline than it was for motor oil or for coolant, so, as is my habit, here is only my first stab at defining the dogmatic doctrines that already exist for what gas to use in a BMW E39 - we can correct the description as we move forward.

Is this a reasonable listing of the key camps we all fit into?
  1. Use only BMW-recommended "top-tier" gasolines with the recommended additive level & octane rating (it's on a list, or it's not)
  2. Use any gasoline of only the recommended octane rating or higher
  3. Use any gasoline of any common octane rating (i.e., 87AKI, 89AKI, & 92AKI in the USA)
What would you modify to better describe "our" gasoline selection decisions for the E39?
  1. Gas is gas only if it's top-tier gas!
  2. Gas is gas but octane is important
  3. Gas is gas and octane is overrated
Note: See also the VERY best of E39 Links threads:
- Engine fuel, i.e., gasoline & octane (1) & "The Gasoline FAQ" & top-tier gas stations (1)

Last edited by bluebee; 02-06-2011 at 08:11 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-15-2014, 07:36 PM
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Interestingly, Costco is top tier now ...
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  #3  
Old 07-16-2014, 03:09 PM
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Nice! I guess since nobody else responded in the last 3 years, I'll respond. I use the cheapest gas I can find. The lowest cost gas, so that I do my part to provide downward pressure on gas prices for everyone. I reward the less greedy station owners in my area.
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Old 07-16-2014, 03:11 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Haha,

I am kind of stuck with the mentality of BP, Shell, the "good" brands.
Maybe it is all in my head lol...
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  #5  
Old 07-16-2014, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Interestingly, Costco is top tier now ...
Costco gas has always qualified as "top tier". I spoke with a guy that is a BMW enthusiast on a local BMW forum, who was an auto dept buyer at Costco. He confided in me that their gas has always met top tier standards, but they didn't feel the rating was worth the additional cost/fees which would have to be passed on to the consumer. Obviously their opinion on that has changed.
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Old 07-16-2014, 03:40 PM
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My primary buying habit is to find the least expensive premium gas. I do prefer to shop at a "busy" station, that has good turnover...and most of the less expensive places do, such as Costco, and Arco. I do buy at Shell or Chevron on occasion...but just cause it makes me feel better...I don't think it performs better. I have NEVER in 35 years of driving, ever experienced a bad tank of gas, nor had a problem with poor running or clogged injectors. In fact both times I have had my injectors cleaned (on my 540 and on my Ferrari) it was reported that patterns were good, and flow was only restricted by 10 to 12 percent...what would be considered "normal" for a high mileage car.

One tip the local Ferrari dealer service dept recommended is don't buy gas when the truck is making a delivery. That definitely can stir up dirt, water, etc, from the bottom of the tank. Even though the pumps have filters, as does your car, he said it was not worth the risk. Come back an hour later.
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  #7  
Old 07-16-2014, 04:23 PM
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I could care less what "station" is selling it since most comes from the same refinery. Now I am choosy on octane and have found that I have substantially better mpg with 90+ fuel.
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Old 07-16-2014, 04:41 PM
E-clipse E-clipse is offline
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I follow the same rule in regards to fuel trucks stirring up sediment, but as far as brand there is really no difference, the additives are added at the pump. I do however tend to frequent well maintained stations.
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  #9  
Old 07-16-2014, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
I use the cheapest gas I can find.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I am kind of stuck with the mentality of BP, Shell, the "good" brands.
Given those two valid sentiments, I wonder if we only have, in reality, these main schools of thought (since I'm in the minority by using the 87 AKI fuels)?
  1. Gas is not a commodity, so only buy top tier 91 AKI gas
  2. Gas is almost a commodity, so buy the good brands of 91 AKI gas
  3. Gas is a commodity, so buy any brand of 91 AKI gas
Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
Costco gas has always qualified as "top tier".
This is an interesting datapoint on the top-tier status of Costco, as I had not known Costco was top tier until this very week.

However, every time I see the tanker truck (at any gas station), I walk up to the driver to ask WHERE he gets his gas, and, out here, in San Jose anyway, invariably they all say one of the two "storage depots" that are in town. (Note that this isn't as random as it sounds because I tend not to buy expensive gas, so, I'm really only asking the low-priced gas stations where they get their gas from.)

As far as my unscientific survey goes, most (low-priced stations) seem to get their gas from the same tanks, albeit they create various mixes of the proportionate chemicals (e.g., polyetheramines, aka "Techron").

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
My primary buying habit is to find the least expensive premium gas.
Hmmmm.... given that answer, it's looking more like we have three basic groups of gas buyers:
  1. Top tier
  2. Top-tier or premium-quality good-brand
  3. Gas is gas
Quote:
Originally Posted by bartelbe View Post
I could care less what "station" is selling it since most comes from the same refinery. Now I am choosy on octane and have found that I have substantially better mpg with 90+ fuel.
Since you couldn't care less what station is selling it, that would put you in the category of "gas is gas".

As for the MPG on 87AKI vs 91AKI, we have a nice thread on that over here:
- What is the true cost/mileage differential between 87 & 91 octane AKI (1) & what does Consumer Reports have to say about that (1)
Quote:
Originally Posted by E-clipse View Post
I follow the same rule in regards to fuel trucks stirring up sediment, ...I do however tend to frequent well maintained stations.
Given that sentiment, maybe the three categories should be something like:
  1. Gas is not a commodity, so only buy top tier 91 AKI gas
  2. Gas is not a commodity, but the station still matters, so buy only premium quality 91 AKI gas (from well-maintained stations)
  3. Gas is a commodity, so buy the cheapest 91 AKI gas you can find
Quote:
Originally Posted by E-clipse View Post
as far as brand there is really no difference, the additives are added at the pump.
Are they? I always wondered about that. In the olden days, I remember, back east, there was a brand (Sunoco?) that mixed everything at the pump, but, I don't see that mixing going on today at the pump. I see the mixing going on when the tanker fills the separate tanks at the station.

Where does the additive mixing actually occur?
a) At the pump?
b) At the gas station tank?
c) At the refinery tank farm?
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 07-17-2014 at 07:16 PM.
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  #10  
Old 07-17-2014, 01:26 AM
KKlop KKlop is offline
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Bluebee,

I used to manage Mobil's largest gasoline distribution system, the Los Angeles Basin, in the '80's. If our trucks loaded at one of our tank farm terminal racks, the additive mixing was done at the rack. If we had a long-term exchange agreement to load at another company's terminal, an additive injection system would be installed at their rack. In short-term situations where trucks loaded at another company's terminal due to a product shortage, the drivers would add the additives into their trailer compartments. Many tank farms have been shut down since that time due to belt-tightening and consolidation. I can only guess the process is the same now.

In most cases, gasoline is shipped through pipelines where the product is mixed with that of other companies at the pipeline tank farms, called a fungible batch. Gasoline has to meet a spec in order to ship in this manner, so it is the case you are not always buying gasoline refined by the same company where you buy your gas. However, the high octane supers can be shipped non-fungible if the octane that is sold is higher than the fungible spec.

As you can guess, the difference in gasoline, aside from octane, is all in the proprietary additive package. And, in the case of Mobil in the 80's, Super contained twice the dose of the other two grades. Assuming that is still the case with the top-tier gases, if you want the additional cleaning power of the additive detergents, buy Super. I can make no claim whether an engine needs the extra dose, but I have always guessed that is why certain manufacturers recommend high grade gas even if the octane is not required in normal operation.

BTW, companies invested in their additives to give themselves some measure of competitive advantage through their marketing campaign. While I was ok with Mobil gas, I used to buy Chevron to get techroline. I loved telling that to the marketing guys at Mobil, it always pissed them off.
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Old 07-17-2014, 02:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
Nice! I guess since nobody else responded in the last 3 years, I'll respond. I use the cheapest gas I can find. The lowest cost gas, so that I do my part to provide downward pressure on gas prices for everyone. I reward the less greedy station owners in my area.
May NOT always be good for your car! Any car. The busier stations tend to have fresher fuel. It's well known that the illegal 'adding' of water or some foul, cheap mix to some 'hic' station tank can result in a "bad fuel" fill up. Cheapest not always the best.

Me? I use highest grade available at only the top brand name stations and then try to burn it as fast as possible before the world runs out and we have to walk..again
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Old 07-17-2014, 04:34 AM
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I "use any brand" of gasoline but prefer the name brands. I only "use the recommended octane rating or higher". I find I get a noticeable improvement in gas mileage (which is offset by the higher cost) with higher octane gas.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:21 AM
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I use top tier name brand because I get horrible mileage with off brand gas. I also use 93 even though my car will take 87 because the extra mileage I get including less frequent trips to the pump make the price difference worth it.
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Old 07-17-2014, 11:23 AM
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Costco started advertising that their gas had four times as much of the fuel sytem cleaning additive as "normal" gas about two years ago. My suspicion is that is when the gas began meeting Top Tier standards. About six months ago I noticed that the signs went up announcing that the gas was now certified as Top Tier compliant.

I have always used Costco as my main gas supplier, but until I saw the first signs showing the additional additives, I continued my practice of running a bottle of Techron through every couple thousand miles. Now we have the best of both worlds, cheap gas and Top Tier certification. Doesn't matter which "camp" you're in fresh gas, low price, Top Tier certified. Win,win!
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Last edited by chiefwej; 07-18-2014 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 07-17-2014, 11:44 AM
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mark_m5 mark_m5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcshott View Post
May NOT always be good for your car! Any car. The busier stations tend to have fresher fuel. It's well known that the illegal 'adding' of water or some foul, cheap mix to some 'hic' station tank can result in a "bad fuel" fill up. Cheapest not always the best.

Me? I use highest grade available at only the top brand name stations and then try to burn it as fast as possible before the world runs out and we have to walk..again
"May not", but I've driven about 350,000 miles in a variety of cars, with zero issues related to fuel. Using the least expensive (Premium 91+ octane) fuel I can find, paying with Credit Card. So, not including Arco.

The highest grade available here is 100 octane racing fuel, but costs over $6/gal.
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Old 07-17-2014, 11:52 AM
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I opted for a non-dogmatic.

3 pedal all the way baybee.

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Old 07-17-2014, 07:46 PM
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Hmmm I don't know if I fit in a camp then. For me not having ethanol iss important. So in omaha I end up going to BP or Hyvee, they both have non ethonal 91s, sense there is no longer non ethonal 89s in the city.
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:50 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KKlop View Post
the additive mixing was done at the rack. [...or...]an additive injection system would be installed at their rack. [...or...]the drivers would add the additives into their trailer compartments
That's good information.
We won't worry about WHERE the additive package is added then, as it can be added anywhere in the process.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcshott View Post
The busier stations tend to have fresher fuel.
Costco over by the San Jose Airport, told me they fill up three times a day, so, that's pretty "fresh" gas.
However, since I buy 70 gallons at a time, I looked up how long it takes for the gas to "go bad". The answer is months!
So, in reality, it seems, all stations should be "fresh enough".

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcshott View Post
I use highest grade available at only the top brand name stations
It looks like a lot of people are in that category, which is to use a "good brand" only, whether or not it's advertised as "top tier".

The question arises though, as to how you know if it's a good brand?
For example, is this Rotten Robbie at the edge of Campbell, California (where I paid well over four dollars a gallon) a good gas or not?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
I "use any brand" of gasoline but prefer the name brands.
It looks like most people are in this category, which is the middle of the road (i.e., use a "good brand" but not necessarily only top tier).

I wonder how people figure out a "good brand" from a not-so-good brand?
Presumably "Moe's Gas" in Campbell California (where I often get my gasoline) is a not-so-good brand, but, what are the good-brand stations you guys keep talking about?

And, what do you think about this Safeway, also in Campbell California, where I often gas up at 70 gallons at a time (although they only give you the Club Card gas-points price break on the first 25 gallons)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
I only "use the recommended octane rating or higher". I find I get a noticeable improvement in gas mileage (which is offset by the higher cost) with higher octane gas.
I shouldn't have brought up octane as a category, since I'm about the only one who doesn't believe in the octane rating making much of a difference either way.
- How long does it take the BMW knock sensors to adjust the fuel trim based on the gasoline AKI octane rating of the fuel used (1)

So, for this religious quest, I think we can drop octane out of it, as that would only be for the religious octane agnostic minority. Besides, we pretty much covered the economics of the octane question over here:
- What is the cost differential between 87 & 91 octane AKI anyway (1)

BTW, I ran an impromptu test of octane and emissions, and found no statistical difference in my bimmer, as tested with a full tank in both cases:
- California smog tests (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BentValve View Post
I use top tier name brand because I get horrible mileage with off brand gas. I also use 93 even though my car will take 87
That puts you in the second-most often stated category, of using only top tier. BTW, how do you know, when you're traveling, which gas is top tier and which isn't?
- What are the known top-tier gas stations (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by chiefwej View Post
I have always used Costco as my main gas supplier,
I'm not sure which religious category that puts you in, as Costco is now top tier, but, I presume that puts you in the "good gas" middle category?

Or, does it put you in the "any gas" category?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
Using the least expensive (Premium 91+ octane) fuel I can find
It's looking like the three religious categories are solidifying:
1. Top tier only,
2. Top tier and "good" gas stations only,
3. Any gas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
I opted for a non-dogmatic
Can't do that.
It's against the rules!
You gotta pick a category!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
The highest grade available here is 100 octane racing fuel, but costs over $6/gal.
I'm not sure where "over here" is, but, we have to be careful about octane ratings because they're not the same around the world.
- How do they measure octane ratings around the world (1)

See also:
- How to better understand the piezoelectric knock sensor operation (1) & how long does it take the BMW knock sensors to adjust the fuel trim based on the gasoline octane rating of the fuel used (1) & what gasoline octane should we use (1) & how do they measure octane ratings around the world (1) & where is "The Gasoline FAQ" & what are the top-tier gas stations (1) & how large is the fuel tank and reserve in the E39 (1) & how much gas should be left to cool the fuel pump (1) & how can we siphon the fuel out of the tank (1) & what is the cost differential between 87 & 91 octane AKI anyway (1) & whats all this about techron (1) & what are the religious dogmatic camps when it comes to BMW fuel choice (1) & how accurate are our mpg calculations (1) & compendium of BMW E39 emission smog test results (1)
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__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 07-17-2014 at 10:38 PM.
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  #19  
Old 07-17-2014, 08:14 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Since a lot of us are in the middle category, which is to buy either top tier or "good" gas, the question arises as what we consider good gas.

Here is the list of top-tier gas as of today, from this web site
*******>********>
TOP TIER Gasoline Retailers:

USA Canada Puerto Rico
76 Stations Chevron Canada Puma Energy Caribe, LLC
Aloha Petroleum CO-OP Shell
ARCO Esso
BP Petro-Canada
Chevron Shell Canada
Conoco Tempo
Costco Wholesale

CountryMark

Entec Stations

Express Convenience Centers

Exxon
Hawaii Fueling Network (HFN)

Holiday Stationstores
Kwik Trip / Kwik Star


MFA Oil Co.

Mobil

Ohana Fuels

Phillips 66

Quik Trip

Road Ranger

Scheirl Oil

Shell

SuperAmerica

Texaco

Tri-Par Oil Co.

Given that list above, which brands below would we add to that list to qualify as one of our "good gas" stations?
A list of gas stations in Canada:
A list of gas stations in Mexico:
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 07-18-2014 at 10:15 PM.
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